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Posted by on 17 May, 2023 in British Crime, British Thrillers, Domestic Suspense, Thriller | 0 comments



A real mix of books over the first half of the month from a bold concept thriller to a light action chase novel to a creepy tale about stalking and secrets.

The Last Passenger by Will Dean (Hodder & Stoughton, 9 May 2023)

Will Dean’s The Last Passenger (Hodder & Stoughton, 9 May 2023) is a bold, wild ride of a story that poses several questions about society and fame, while also providing some decent thrills.

Caz Ripley, a cafe owner from a small, ordinary British town, boards the RMS Atlantica with her boyfriend Pete and a thousand fellow passengers destined for New York. The next morning, she wakes to discover that everyone else on board has disappeared. As she staggers around the abandoned ship desperately searching for help she comes to realise that this was no accident.

The Last Passenger is a dark tale that takes a sharp satirical look at modern society and culture. I will not reveal more of the plot, as there are quite a few surprises, and a couple of shocks towards the end. There are some slow patches, but for the most part the book proceeds at a rapid pace and Dean certainly knows how to pile on the emotional pressure. Some of the scenes are quite chilling and it is very easy to feel for Caz and her plight.

It does require a reasonable degree of suspension of disbelief, especially the final pages, and I suspect that it is not going to be for everyone. However, if you enjoy clever, concept thrillers with a strong driving narrative and a good dose of moral outrage, then this is for you.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book for review.

Second Shot by Cindy Dees (Kensington, 23 May 2023)

Having a slightly lighter touch, is the enjoyable Second Shot (Kensington, 23 May 2023) by Cindy Dees.

Fifty-five-year-old Helen Warwick is a former CIA assassin, who is now happily retired. She is looking forward to reconnecting with her grown children after years of being unexplainably absent all the time, when a simple night minding her son’s new puppy turns into a bloodbath and a blown up house. It seems that she is being targeted, but why and by whom. After years of eliminating the nation’s enemies one sniper bullet at a time, Helen now finds herself being hunted as she tracks her way through her bloody past to find who might want her dead.

This a briskly paced thriller that grabs your attention from the opening pages and holds it all the way to the final bloody confrontation. Helen is an engaging character and her reflections on her life and her family are entertaining and often amusing. The book smoothly moves its way through several well choreographed scenes of violence and builds to a good conclusion and the promise of more books.

Second Shot is an engaging read, and it is very easy to settle back and be entertained by Cindy. A good, light novel that is ideal for a long flight or a lazy weekend.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book.

Second Shot does not appear to be released in paper form in Australia or the United Kingdom, but can be ordered online, and is available on Kindle.

The Guest Room by Tasha Sylva (Welbeck, 30 May 2023)

The Guest Room (Welbeck, 30 May 2023) by Tasha Sylva is a slow burning psychological thriller with a good twist.

After the mysterious, violent death of her beloved sister in a London park, Tess is grief stricken and lonely. She moves into her sister’s home to retain a contact with the police investigation, but has to take in boarders in order to pay the bills. To pass the time, she goes through her guests’ possessions, imagining the stories they hold. It gives a her a momentary distraction from the pain of her sister’s death, but it eventually becomes a dangerous obsession. When handsome and inscrutable Arran takes the room for four weeks, Tess finds his diary and starts to read. As the daily confessions to his diary darken in tone, Tess becomes caught up in something that is quickly spiraling out of control.

Tasha steadily builds the suspense by alternating between Tess’s increasingly erratic and risky behaviour, the creepy diary entries and the suspicious activities of Tess’s neighbours. The plot seems to drift at times, with repetitive encounters between Tess and her neighbours, but Tasha pulls it together over the final chapters and the book builds to a taut and tense conclusion with a neat twist.

Tasha is good at conveying the sense of Tess’s grief and desperation, but she is never an likable character. Her behaviours are strange and it is difficult to see why others are attracted to her. The other characters also lack some charm, but their creepiness adds to the book’s suspense.

The Guest Room is a solid debut by Tasha and shows good promise. It will, however, make you think twice about staying in a BnB again!

The Guest Room is released in Australia on 30 May 2023 and is already available in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the publisher and the Canberra Weekly for a copy of the book for review.

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